Sara Bareilles and Gavin Creel: A Waitress dream team reunite in the West End
Approaching its one-year anniversary in the West End, Waitress follows Jenna Hunterson, a small-town woman who enters a pie-making competition in the hopes of winning a cash prize to start a new life. It’s been the talk of the town in recent weeks, with Desi Oakley flown over from the US to step into the production after the lead and covers were unable to perform, proving that the show really does go on in the West End.
But, it’s not often that a musical's composer themself appears in their own show, as is the case with Waitress' Sara Bareilles, who is set to make her West End debut as Jenna later this month. The multi-Grammy Award-nominated artist best-known for her 2007 hit "Love Song", will be reunited with the Tony and Olivier Award-winning Gavin Creel as Dr. Pomatter for a six-week engagement from 27th January.
Ahead of performing together at the Adelphi Theatre, we caught up with the Waitress dream team to find out why they love acting alongside each other, the show’s powerful lyrics and returning to London.
Waitress tickets are available now.
Sara, you made your Broadway songwriting debut creating the music and lyrics for Waitress, but what were your main inspirations from the film?
Sara Bareilles: There was a project already to adapt Waitress into a musical when I was initially brought on board to the production. Diane Paulus was already attached to the show as the director, so I secured a meeting with her and discussed the project with me. I wasn’t familiar with the film at the time, but after watching the movie, I immediately saw the potential to turn it into a musical and knew there were songs in the story.
What was the first song that you wrote for the show?
SB: “She Used To Be Mine”. It was daunting for me, as someone who had only written autobiographical songs, to then think about writing for multiple characters in a show. I started with Jenna as she’s the person who I could see myself in the most closely with. At the time of writing the music for Waitress, I really recognised a lot of myself in her at that time in my life. I wrote “She Used To Be Mine” for Jenna and myself and it stuck.
It must be your favourite song to sing in Waitress then?
SB: It is, I really love singing that song. All the songs in Waitress carry a specific meaning but “She Used To Be Mine” is a proper meal for a singer. I also love “When He Sees Me”, sung by Dawn.
After the four-week engagement starring alongside Gavin in the Broadway production of Waitress, are you excited to perform with him again?
SB: Yes! He’s an absolute dreamboat and he’s one of my best friends and we’re having a wonderful London adventure together and it’s awesome!
Gavin, what was it like to star in Waitress with Sara?
Gavin Creel: Oh my gosh, Waitress is the greatest thing. I was doing a cabaret and Sara asked if I wanted to come and do the show in New York and I said “yeah!” straight away. I’m so glad that my schedule worked out, but I was so ready to do more at the end so performing with Sara in London is a dream. It’s surreal.
Waitress will mark your return to the West End after winning an Olivier Award as Elder Price in The Book of Mormon, how does it feel to be back?
GC: Home. It feels like home. I’ve been going through a lot in the States and wondered whether it would feel like I’m leaving projects behind, but I can’t be homesick because this is home. I know where my local is, where my Tesco is and where the backstreets are. It’s a dream place to be.
Gavin, you’ll be reprising the role of Dr. Pomatter in London, but what parts do you enjoy performing together?
GC: My favourite song is “You Matter to Me”, I just think it’s so tender and so in line with what everybody wants from another person. But, I’ve sung with a lot of people and I think Sara is the greatest female pop singer around. I don’t know another person who understands her voice in that way and can communicate with audiences in a way that’s so... when I sing with her, I feel like I just kind of walk into place in a way that’s so exciting.
SB: "You Matter to Me" is such a beautiful moment in the film and the musical. It’s truly something special.
What’s your favourite thing about each other’s performance?
GC: “What Baking Can Do” is just before my first entrance. Getting to hear Sara navigate through the song in an effortless way is so great, I love that!
SB: Gavin is very unpredictable and alive as a scene partner. The first scene with him at the doctor’s office is always a wild ride, you don’t know what you’re gonna get and it’s very entertaining.
Did you have any on-stage mishaps together on Broadway?
SB: Oh my god, all the time...
GC: There’s one scene when Jenna gets angry and she says “Goodbye, Dr Pomatter”, and I replied, “Goodbye, Dr Pomatter... Jenna!” and we just kept laughing. We’ll probably have some here, I’m sure!
What do you take away from appearing in the show?
GC: Don’t settle for anything. Don’t live your life for someone else or something else.
SB: It’s never too late to reclaim your love for yourself. People are by themselves in circumstances that can feel dark and claustrophobic, but Jenna still finds the strength to do things in her own power and self-identity and that’s universal.